The following conversation is between me and some government officials on an inquiry about the swearing in of city officials in Coos Bay that may have given the people another precedence for enacting the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance in our county and in other counties in Oregon. In the process of answering my question the Manager of Coos Bay, The Secretary of State and The League of Oregon Cities made the argument in defense of local communities passing laws that are equal to state law. Their answer is what local sovereignty is all about and the exact argument that has been made in defense of local initiatives that circumvent state law. It is a prospect that was debated during the time of Dillon's Rule to the Cooley Doctrine.....Rob T.
Link to the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance:
Link to the Dillon's Rule and the Cooley Doctrine:
A Conversation on the Authority of the City of Coos Bay
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 1:59 PM
To: Rodger Craddock
Subject: Swearing in of Officers
Hello Rodger, "City Manager of Coos Bay"
Can you please explain how the city of Coos Bay can swear in their elected officers when the election has not been certified by the county clerk or by the state?
Below is a copy of the OR Constitution form Article 2, but I know the difference may be due to the city charter establishing its own rules on the election, but how can the swearing in take place before certification?
Section 14. Time of holding elections and assuming duties of office. The regular general biennial election in Oregon for the year A. D. 1910 and thereafter shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. All officers except the Governor, elected for a six year term in 1904 or for a four year term in 1906 or for a two year term in 1908 shall continue to hold their respective offices until the first Monday in January, 1911; and all officers, except the Governor elected at any regular general biennial election after the adoption of this amendment shall assume the duties of their respective offices on the first Monday in January following such election. All laws pertaining to the nomination of candidates, registration of voters and all other things incident to the holding of the regular biennial election shall be enforced and be effected the same number of days before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November that they have heretofore been before the first Monday in June biennially, except as may hereafter be provided by law. [Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by H.J.R. 7, 1907, and adopted by the people June 1, 1908]
From: Rodger Craddock <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 4:46 PM
To: Rob Taylor
Subject: RE: Swearing in of Officers
The Coos Bay City Charter states in part that elected officials term of office is until the first regular council meeting following the biennial general election. During first meeting after the election those elected are given the oath of office and start their term of office. This practice is not new for our City! The Coos Bay City Charter also dictates the time period for the term of office for the mayor (2 years) and the council (4 years).
We have spoken with a representative from the State Secretary’s office and we have been told that the Coos Bay City Charter trumps the state’s rules in this matter. As you probably already know we are what’s called a home-rule state, which is codified within the Oregon Constitution. The term home rule refers to the extent to which a city my set policy and manage its own affairs.
I hope this information is useful for you.
Rodger Craddock, City Manager
City of Coos Bay
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 3:11 PM
To: WHALEN Alma
Subject: Re: Swearing in of Coos Bay Councilors
Hello Alma, "Works for the Secretary of State's office"
Is that legal to appoint a board without that board being certified even if it is stated in the city charter? Then, are the decisions made by the newly elected council official? It does not seem proper or legal. Do you have any ORS or written laws that regulate that process to reassert the legality of the city's charter or their decisions?
I have Article two, section 14 of the OR Constitution, but it does not clarify the laws concerning city charters and certification.
From: WHALEN Alma <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 11:38 AM
To: Rob Taylor
Subject: RE: Swearing in of Coos Bay Councilors
We don’t have jurisdiction to challenge or say whether that is legal or not. Other than going directly to the city or an attorney, I would suggest reaching out to the League of Oregon Cities. The statutes governing city processes are not ones that we administer to they may have a better idea of which statutes allow this, if any.
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2016 12:59 PM
To: Susan Muir
Subject: LOC Inquiry on City Elections
RE: LOC Inquiry on City Elections
I have an inquiry on the election laws pertaining to cities that the SOS could not answer.
On Tuesday November 15, the city of Coos Bay had their regular city council meeting where they swore in the newly elected officers. However, the city had them take the oath of office before the election was certified by the county clerk or the state. Then these uncertified elected officials made some very important and controversial votes and that is where my questions begin.
How can the city of Coos Bay legally swear in city officers before the election is certified?
How can any of the votes taken during the meeting be valid if it was held before the certification of the election and none of the officers where certified?
If it is legal, would you please send me the ORS or OAR that pertains to the laws on this issue?
From: Susan Muir <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 9:45 AM
To: Rob Taylor
Cc: Sean O'Day
Subject: RE: LOC Inquiry on City Elections
Hello Mr. Taylor – Sean O’Day, the League’s General Counsel, sent you a response on November 22nd. Thank you.
Susan Muir, Member Services Director
Your inquiry about election procedures was forwarded to me. I’m the General Counsel for the League. I wish to note at the outset that the League does not give legal advice to cities or the public, nor does the League comment on the lawfulness of the actions of cities. The League is a support organization that works to develop training, models, and best practices for cities, and advocates on behalf of the collective interests of all of Oregon’s cities before the state courts and legislature. Put differently, we are not a regulatory agency and we do not regulate cities.
However, with those caveats in mind, what Mr. Craddock told you is correct. Oregon is a home rule state, which means the voters of a city are able to determine such matters as election procedures and other related governance matters (like the size of a city council, whether to have wards, etc.) The voters make these choices when they create a city by adopting a charter, which operates very much like and has an equal footing to the state constitution. Oregon is unique in this regard. Very few states in the US empower their local voters/cities in this way, and for example would otherwise require everyone to follow the same voting procedure. Oregon is different, however, which is why the secretary of state’s office said the matters into which you inquired are determined by the city charter and ordinances, and not state law.
Sincerely, Sean O’Day